Annual metro Denver EDC report shows job growth in beverage production and nine other industry clusters — including oil and gas
Beverage production saw a resurgence in metro Denver and northern Colorado in 2015, according to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., which is categorizing it as a major industry for the first time in almost a decade.
The beverage industry casts a wide net to include breweries, wineries and distilleries, tea and coffee companies, dairy processing facilities, and producers of bottled drinks and ice products.
The EDC dropped beverage production from its annual Industry Cluster Study after 2007 amid a downsizing. In the 10th annual study released Thursday, beverages are back, positioning the industry as one of the state’s largest sectors alongside aerospace, bioscience, energy, financial services and others.
“With the resurrection of all the craft breweries, we’ve seen employment increasing and increasing,” said EDC chief economist Patty Silverstein. “We thought it was time to bring back the focus on that industry once again.”
Employment in beverage production grew 5.2 percent in the nine-county Front Range region through the third quarter of 2015, according to the study.
Since 2010, total employment in beverage production has increased 22.4 percent to 8,620 jobs, up 1,600 positions for the period. The jobs on average paid $60,520 in 2015. Among the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S., Denver ranks No. 3 for its concentration of jobs in the cluster.
What has changed between 2007 and now is the cluster’s diversity, Silverstein said.
A decade ago, large brewers such as MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch dominated. Today, the region boasts 180 companies that include smaller craft brewers, distillers and coffee companies. Nearly 45 percent of the region’s beverage companies employed fewer than 10 people in 2015, while 3.9 percent employed 250 or more, according to the report.
Overall, 10 of 13 industry clusters and subclusters in the study showed employment growth in 2015: aerospace, aviation, beverage production, bioscience, medical devices and diagnostics, energy, investments, insurance, health care and wellness, and information technology.
With the price of crude in a slump, oil and gas producers have been suffering, but the fossil fuels industry still showed 2.8 percent employment growth year over year.
“We’re seeing shifts and changes within that industry,” Silverstein said, adding that many of the region’s energy jobs are office-based positions in downtown Denver.
Cleantech, which includes solar, wind and biofuels, had 8.5 percent employment growth — the highest rate in the report.
In total, Colorado’s energy industry supports 263,610 workers, who earn $17.6 billion annually, according to the report.
One of the most important takeaways from the study, Silverstein said, is the teamwork occurring among clusters.
For instance, energy companies play a role across all industries.
“What’s important is the collaborations that go on within our industry clusters,” she said.
The region includes Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, Larimer and Weld counties.
Three industries that did not see growth last year were pharma and biotechnology, which dropped 4.3 percent; broadcasting and telecom, with a 0.8 percent drop; and banking and finance, which decreased 0.7 percent.
Jennifer Campbell-Hicks: email@example.com, 303-954-1903 or @JenniferCHicks
Industry growth in colorado
Ten of the 13 major industry industry clusters and subclusters saw employment growth from third quarter 2014 through third quarter 2015:
Aerospace: 0.3 percent growth; 19,520 workers
Aviation: 2 percent; 16,880 workers
Beverage production: 5.2 percent; 8,620 workers
Medical devices and diagnostics: 2.8 percent; 10,820 workers
Pharma and biotechnology: -4.3 percent; 4,410 workers
Broadcasting and telecom: -0.8 percent; 41,970 workers
Fossil fuels: 2.8 percent; 33,120 workers
Cleantech: 8.5 percent; 21,600 workers
Banking and finance: -0.7 percent; 38,140 workers
Investments: 7 percent; 26,070 workers
Insurance: 3.8 percent; 32,750 workers
Healthcare and wellness: 5.5 percent; 202,550 workers
IT/software: 4.5 percent; 48,610 workers Source: Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation